Fire ‘em all. Start Over…
We have seen this movie play out a few hundred times…
Last week, Derek Chauvin was arrested for the murder of George Floyd. He was merely charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. His accomplices are still free. Most have us have seen the video, no need to link it here. Also, I’m not going into Chauvin’s prodigious record of undisciplined violations. The real question is what can we do to stop unarmed black and brown people from being murdered for things most of us take for granted like…jogging?
“Honestly, I don’t think they pay cops enough…and you get what you pay for.” – Chris Rock
As of this writing, American cities are on fire. This is what happens when people keep getting punched. They tend to punch back. Complaints of looting and disturbance are simply the whining of a privileged class, telling the oppressed how to protest. It’s callous and betrays a feeble complicit psychology, with zero empathy and devotion to their daddy. Remember when Kaepernick, Eric Reid and other NFL players took a knee? While not alone, they were all lambasted, middle America basically are saying, “Shut the fuck up. We don’t have a problem” or “There’s no racism, they’re just whining.”
I have known quite a few officers. It was part of my “day job” in California. They were cool with me in the briefing room and I looked like most of them; white, bald, in my 40s at the time. But I was never “in.” They’re cops, and many sign up for one thing and that is to kick some massive ass. If they want to “serve,” why not be a fireman, or EMT? Yeah, those guys don’t get to have a monopoly on violence.
When I started this article, the idea was simple; since most cops don’t go to college, they may not think critically. They merely left high school for the military, or straight into the police academy, trading one form of bells and whistles for another. So how would they relate to the neighborhoods they police with discretion, etc.? This is an obvious view…
This was also not true.
It was discovered that 30% of police in the United States have a four year degree. 51.8% have a two year degree and 5.4% have a graduate degree. So, what gives? Why the now routine violence, caught on cell phones, that seem to increase with each year in number and brutality? A long list of senseless killings, like that of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland or Philando Castille, at the hands of police have many demanding changes. These demands are ignored. Of course, these same people fall back on racial stereotypes, dating back to before the founding of the country.
Also, we don’t know when they received additional education, or training. How long have they indoctrinated into their department? Ten, fifteen years? What good is that when all one is doing is getting credits to get a raise or more promotions?
People like Bland or Freddie Gray, where there was no video, had the results that could be that of fiction. Especially in those two cases, where the deaths were ruled homicide, there were no convictions. Conviction rates are abysmal; roughly one percent of officers involved in the deaths of unarmed black and brown people get indicted. Less are convicted. Again, one percent are indicted.
Also, the so called educated officer is more acutely aware of being rewarded for more aggressive behavior within a given system. Studies show they are more inclined to “work the system” even if it’s flawed, rather than improve it. They make more routine stops, thus upping their contact. As we have seen that contact can end badly often.
Of course, racism is involved. How do I know? Look at the recent COVID-19 astro-turf protesters at various state capitols and city halls in the U.S. How many armed white people were shot, tased, choked or harassed by police in anyway? None. Not. One. In fact, many law enforcement officers posed for selfies with skinheads. Protests in Minneapolis, after George Floyd’s murder, were met with riot police, tear gas (which burns at 1,200 degrees and is responsible for many of the city’s fires), and dogs. Those boys came to play. This also speaks to the neo liberal and neo conservative failures of the U.S., a subject for another time.
Here are some suggestions because it seems that with the endless parade of acquittals, no cop is really discouraged. Chauvin had charges dropped in the past. Then county D.A. Amy Klobuchar refused to even indict Chauvin in the killing of a Native American man in 2011. Moreover, a Grand Jury trial is almost a sure guarantee of freedom as opposed to a trial comprising of a jury of the community’s citizens.
Fire them all and start with some of this…
1) Pay cops more. Yeah, I know…but wait a second. If the average cop made a $100,000 a year, by default, we’d have a more rigorous psychological screening process (a degree means nothing, just look at Ted Bundy) and more rigorous termination. With competitive salary, benefits and comparable retirement, more well balanced people would hopefully apply and incentives like bullshit traffic stops (70% higher for black and brown people than white) could possibly decrease. Key point: Psych screenings are not for compliance or easy violence. They’re for compassion and critical thinking. Animals get denied. Also, anyone with a military background, that saw combat? Nope. Should go without saying.
2) Give the Taxpayer a Break. These cases are not without huge settlements. After video showed Laquan McDonald being shot in the back by Officer Jason Van Dyke 16 times, the City of Chicago settled for $5 million with his family. Mayor Rahm Emmanuel sat on the evidence for ten months before it went public. Why should John Q. Public bear the brunt of criminal malfeasance? An idea that gets tossed around is, “Take it out of the pension fund!” While perhaps unfair to future retirees, it will do one thing for sure and that is… Key point: see #3.
3) Change the Culture of Criminality and Permissiveness. Derek Chauvin was not alone; three other officers also helped him. George Floyd, while handcuffed, was being held down by two officers while one more kept bystanders at bay. At no time in the video was Chauvin told to get off Floyd’s neck by the other cops. Many good people choose law enforcement because they want to serve. Two things seem to happen; they quit, or they acquiesce to the environment populated by bullies and the bullied. The latter are even more dangerous because theirs is a bigger axe to grind. Many go their entire career never firing a weapon or getting involved in anything more than routine calls. However, they also don’t report on their fellow officers. Whether it’s bribery, sexual violence or even murder, most cops will not risk alienating their “guys.” They could be left high and dry one day when push comes to shove. See the movie Serpico, a true story, and get back to me. Key point: fire them all, start over.
4) De-militarize police. Since the Omnibus Crime Bill was passed (another Joe Biden gem), police departments have been able to buy military gear, like tanks, at fire sale prices. The mentality that goes along with it is not too different from a kid with a new toy. Eventually, they’re going to use them. Also, the siege mentality takes over. This should not be news, however, it’s always a surprise to the pearl clutchers. Slavishly licking the boots of the system, they “pray” for first responders and curse protesters. Many of our city’s police departments are trained in Israel, specifically, in Gaza which has been under siege for decades. The knee on the neck move, Chauvin employed? Israeli military. While every American law enforcement official insists it’s not police procedure, it is in Gaza…
Key Point: training officers to treat our citizens like they’re under siege? The result is, well…
The fact is that none of these suggestions are going to be enacted. Not one. The point of law enforcement is to protect the oligarch structure, not us. As I began, the very same people decrying looting or kneeling athletes are usually the very assholes who say, “Racism is over in America” or think the Democrats and Republicans are doing a bang up job. That’s not only ignorant but stupid, which in itself, is not a theory.
We could start with implementing these ideas through community policing. Walking the beat more and lose the immediate confrontational attitude. As Jimmy Dore says, “Their job is not to get home safe. Their job is to make sure I do.” Football season is coming so listen to the kneeling guys. The Best Buy you save, could be your own.